Disclaimer: Story based on characters and plot owned by J. K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. I wrote this for pleasure; no money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
As always, many thanks to Alpha Fight Club for all their help. To the reader, enjoy.
A Mother-In-Law's Love
Chapter 1: Set the Way-Back Machine for Stun
I ghost to the Burrow. My Occlumency barriers at maximum, I've a grasp, however tenuous, on the matter at hand. Then I see her.
Before me is a sun goddess in a millieu of flame. Nude, lissome, proud, her shoulders back, her legs in a wide stance, she's an avatar of deadly beauty. Her lips part slightly and red hair, glittering golden in reflected firelight, rustles in the hot wind. She folds her arms beneath her breasts and clutches her wand in an overhand grip, the fashion of a half-century past. Its tip smolders, guilty wisps that betray her arson, and her skin is the pink of Summer's kiss, yet sooted by smoke's corruption.
"Harry, dear, please stop staring at my daughter's bum," Molly mutters as a hand clasps over my eyes.
"Sorry, Molly," I say.
"Ginny's a nice girl and you shouldn't be seeing her like this before you're married. She'll get a reputation..." I can tell that her heart isn't in her scolding. One of my companions wails loudly and I search out our Bond to share her feelings of loss. Sorrow rips at my soul.
I start to peel the fingers from my face as her daughter's nudity elicits the obvious reaction-again, I'm reminded how strong teen-aged hormones can be.
"Harry!" Molly exclaims, scandalized. That I'm only dressed in boxers doesn't conceal matters.
"Potter!" the creature before me hisses as she turns to face me. A lesser man, one who hadn't defeated Voldemort several times, may have quailed at her malevolent stare.
"Busy morning, I see." I nod toward the roaring inferno, my wand trained on her.
"Indeed. Now I shall slay you and rebuild what you have stolen from me." I lament my cursed destiny, to be struck always with enemies lacking in conversation skills and, well, style.
"Are you alone in there?" I ask, stalling for time. I haven't a clue how I'm going to do this without hurting Ginny.
Ginny's features soften and her irises return to the warm, chocolate brown that stirs me heart. "I'm here too, Harry."
She smiles, her blush coloring more than just her face, and winks at me as Molly tuts. Across our Bond, I feel Ginny's embrace and a whisper in my mind pleads for me to defeat the usurper, no matter what the cost. I'm unsure I can obey.
Before I can subdue her, the malevolent spirit returns with a snarl and spits the incantation for a Killing Curse. A sputtering green bolt arcs toward me. I dodge, my Auror reflexes coming to the fore, and snap off a series of powerful stunners, fiery red bolts that crackle in the air. She slaps the first few away, but the fourth shatters her shield, forcing her to leap aside to avoid the next. The sudden motion gives me a fascinating practical lesson in inertia as Ginny whimpers in my mind over the pain she'll be feeling tomorrow.
Did I mention that I tend to get distracted by her brown eyes?
I suppose you're wondering how I found myself in such a situation. For the most part, it started a few months ago with the Order meeting the night after Albus's funeral, but I really should back up a bit earlier to when I'd made the trip from my former timeline that afternoon, my future self slamming into my body with a suddenness that... to be frank, it knocked me on my arse.
Anyway, I stood up and faced away from the dissipating crowd-the ceremony had just finished and Albus's mausoleum was burning, as before-and quickly cast a Scourgify on my muddy robes.
Then it hit me. Circe's snailtracks, I'd done it! I'd gone back in time! Years of preparation and single-minded dedication, bankrupting of the Potter and Black fortunes in the process-it had all come to fruition. I was finding it hard to keep a straight face, despite the austerity of the occasion.
Don't get me wrong, I missed Albus-still do. It's just that I'd made my peace with his loss. What I really needed, besides a stiff drink, was to bring down Tom as fast as I could in this timeline. The sooner I fulfilled my destiny, the quicker I could get onto the things that matter, like reacquainting myself with Gin's erogenous zones.
"Great man, Dumbledore," Hagrid muttered, a mantra mostly for himself, as he ambled toward his pygmy-giant brother. It was uncommon wisdom from the guy who used to get pissed and bump uglies. Literally: troll prostitutes who specialize in taking their clients down the Honeydukes Highway... Believe me, you don't want to know the details.
My mind drifted to the last words Albus had said to me before I went back, "Such a beautiful, precious thing is Love, Harry. May you find it once again." Well, that wasn't exactly the last thing he said-more like his portrait. His last real words were "Bugger! Harry, would you stand over there, please? And mind that you don't kill Professor Snape." I didn't exactly follow his advice in either timeline, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Lost in thought, I turned and stepped into the bulk of a middle-aged, stocky Ministry official who'd stood much closer behind me than is polite. I recognized him immediately-sweaty palms, shaggy, blonde hair, breath that smelled like Snape's potions storeroom: "Scrimjob," there to ask me if I was still Dumbledore's Man or if I'd be his.
I shivered involuntarily. Oh. he's a competent Minister, to be sure, but not exactly someone I'd leave alone with a child. Or a pet. Of course, I told him to bugger off-probably not far from what he had in mind-and gave him an earful on what I thought about being a Ministry pinup.
I pushed past the annoying twat and looked up to see the gaggle of Weasleys, then lost the battle with my grin, as the joy at seeing them again just wasn't letting go. Charlie, whom I remembered losing his legs and bleeding out from Rudolphus's curse, was standing between the twins, who had been incinerated in the Diagon Alley inferno. And Ginny, the love of my life, my reason for being, was alive and whole, and being smothered by one of her mother's patented hugs...
Then I felt it-Morgana's muff, I'd missed it. The Soul Bond settled into place. The tug on my heart from my love's direction was all I needed to slip into the first peace I'd known in a decade. I closed my eyes as existential pain faded into memory.
Then I threw my head back and cackled like a madman.
Okay, my timing wasn't great, it being a funeral with most of the Wizarding World's most influential in attendance, and I realize it may have been more thoughtful had I waited until I was at least out of the Weasleys' earshot since I'd just broken Ginny's heart minutes before. (At least I made Bozo's career-he snapped a candid photo of the pig-in-shit who'd go on win the next several Witch Weekly's Most Dazzling Smiles).
In my defense, you have to put it into context-if you've ever had the extreme fortune of being in a Soul Bond relationship, and I'm speaking to the dozen of you out there who have, you know exactly what I mean. For the rest of you, think of the greatest feeling of completeness and wholeness imaginable. Think the spiritual equivalent of riding the edge of an orgasm for the rest of your life. Yeah, it's that good.
Oh, and did I mention how it improves the sex?
Gin and I had shared a Bond, the germ of which had started before today in the last timeline and it had strengthened into a full-on Soul Bond before Christmas of my seventh year, which is why we'd married so soon. Things were fast and loose then, with the attack on the Burrow, Molly's passing, Charlie, Bill, and the Twins gone, and the prophecy calling for me to duke it out with ol' Anguis Rex. We were pretty sure one of us wouldn't survive and we wanted the most out of life.
Of course we thought it would be me who'd die, given that I had to go tête-à-tête with Tom. How wrong we were. McNair stabbed her with a poisoned blade seconds after I banished my adversary to whatever hell there is. She died before I could take her in my arms and took half of my soul with her. The good half.
I looked back at the Weasleys, who weren't exactly pleased with me. My smile slipped a little as Ginny wailed into her mother's shoulder and the concerned and angry stares I was receiving from, well, everyone sort of dashed any hopes of trying to set things right then.
Remus and Moody approached cautiously. "Harry, is everything okay?" the werewolf asked, putting his hand on my shoulder. That worked—instant grin-be-gone.
"Lovely, Lupin, thanks for asking." I said, sliding out from under his hand. Okay, I was probably more brusque with him than I needed to be.
Let me explain-I knew he was trying to help, and before he was a decent enough guy, just weak-the tosser abandoned his pregnant wife and stupidly got captured, by Pettigrew of all people. Tonks, thinking he was dead, went into the last battle wishing to die herself, her newborn daughter back at home with her mum.
I didn't see it-I was a bit preoccupied, obviously-but they say she went into full Valkyrie mode: blitzed out of her gourd on Pepper-ups, strength boosters, and a muggle drug called "angel dust," and morphed into a Hagrid-sized, battleaxe-wielding behemoth. Overcharging like that, she had less than a fifty-fifty shot of surviving even if she didn't die in battle.
Miraculously, Tonks, Hagrid, and Grawp held the west line by themselves. I was told she mowed down anything in her path, showing a particularly savage streak toward werewolves. Go figure. She even chopped her dear aunt Bella in two-the long way-before being felled from behind by her cousin Draco's Killing Curse. Lifeless on the ground, she reverted her form and in the aftermath, I finally got to see her true self. (It's no wonder she hid it—contrary to popular opinion, not all Blacks were beautiful).
What had me brassed off most was that it turns out the greying Marauder was diddling another the whole time: Laura Merryweather, a 'Puff a few years ahead of me at Hogwarts, who gave up her kid when her folks were killed. When the rangy pedophile skipped the country, guess who got to play Godfather to two orphans: yeah, me and good ol' Dobby Daycare.
"Er, right, Harry. Well, if there's anything..." he stammered, not quite making eye contact.
Too much reminiscing-time to get to work. I interrupted him, silently throwing up a privacy spell and switching into my command voice and posture. "Lupin!" I barked. "I need you and Moody to call an Order meeting tonight. Albus left a contingency plan in case he bought it and refocusing the Order under my command was the first order of business. Get the word out-eight o'clock sharp, full meeting, all members. Hermione, Ron, and Ginny too. Schedule time for me to speak alone with Gin beforehand-we'll need half an hour." My tone left no room for argument.
I turned to the grizzled ex-Auror. "Moody, I need you to coordinate with McGonagall and Flitwick about getting Hogwarts locked down and secure. We'll need a second base of Ops in case Number 12 gets compromised. And this school had better open next year or we'll see a mass exodus over summer. Work with Minerva to arrange press coverage of the security improvements. In case I can't bring down the tosser by then, come September first, we're going to make Hogwarts a bastion of hope for these people." The crippled warrior nodded to me, wisely keeping his mouth shut. "While you do that, I've got business back at the castle, then I'm off to HQ to reset the Fidelius and the other wards Albus had keyed to him."
This seemed to surprise them, but Moody took it in stride, apparently noticing the sophistication of my privacy ward. He saluted me with his wand before limping off toward the new Headmistress.
Lupin shook his head. "Harry, the Fidelius charm is very complex magic. Are you sure..."
"You have your orders." I stepped close to the man and straightened my back, pitching my head back a bit and looking down my nose at him to cow him into submission. I might have put a bit of juice into the stare-a trick I picked up from the old codger. "And let's get one thing clear..." I jabbed him in the chest with my finger. "If you're thinking of running out or, heaven forbid, cheating on Nymphadora after the sacrifices she's made for you, I promise I'll personally cut your balls off and feed them to Buckbeak. Break it off with Laura or Tonks, I don't care which, but be a man for once." Startled, he swallowed, nodding. "Good. Dismissed."
I spun on my heel and marched back toward the castle, my mind filling with plans. If I played my cards right, I might be able to end this war soon, depending on how fast I could locate and destroy the Horcruxes. When I got to the entrance, I realized I needed help to pull them off. The best "man" for the job would be my only living friend and confidant in the past world-the whole reason I came back now instead of earlier. Unfortunately, he happened to be busy at the moment, flying over the pyre and singing.
I took a moment and listened. Damn, it was good stuff, evocative and powerful. Few have heard it, but phoenix song is magical in the way of all the good things in life-the joy of holidays, the scent of wild flowers after a warm spring rain, anal sex...
Impatient to get started, I called Fawkes over mid-stanza with my power (more on that later) and he came. But, having just suffered the phoenix-song equivalent of coitus interruptus, he was rather less than pleased. Arriving in an angry squawk and a bright burst of yellow fire, he flew overhead and dropped flaming bird crap on me before flashing out to renew his song.
I know. Add it to the list of things I wish I knew before I stuffed them up: "Must give a bonded phoenix time for closure when its symbiote dies."
As it turns out, this was only the first of my plans to go awry.
Early that evening, I found myself knackered, lying on the expansive bed of the master suite of Number 12. It had been a rough day, what with traveling back in time, locking HQ down with military grade security, destroying two Horcruxes with Godric's blade... fretting about my upcoming chat with Gin. At least I was saved from having to Apparate about and share the Fidelius secret with everyone-I'd delegated that to Moody and Lupin. I looked at the clock: seven ten. Twenty minutes until the most important conversation of my life.
Don't get me wrong. It's not like this body was weak. Far from it-I was probably as strong magically as my peak last time around, which put me just below Dumbledore and Voldemort, not shabby company. It was that my sixteen year old form wasn't used to channeling the kind of magic I was throwing about. My fingers and right arm felt numb, like they'd suffered an electric shock, and my wand, beside me on the night stand, was slightly blackened and still hot to the touch.
A knock at the door brought me out of my brooding. Was she early? My heart in my throat, I leaped to my feet and opened it a crack as five large, red-haired men with grimaces and familiar sour body odor pushed in, the eldest hitting me with a body-bind jinx that left me unable to move more than my eyeballs. The stocky one, Charlie, moved behind and snagged my arms, arresting my fall. Thanks for small courtesies.
George took out an eye dropper and gave me a cheeky wink. "You don't mind a spot of the ol' 'serum, do ya, Harry? Speak up if you do. Good."
Okay, I could beat this-I rammed my Occlumency barriers up, confident that they could withstand an amateur's brew.
Ron stepped forward, looking uncomfortable. "Hey, I didn't know you guys were going to do this-no questions except about Ginny, okay? Dumbledore left us something to do that's secret and can't get out."
Bill gave the youngest a long look, surprised that he'd stood up to them, before he assented, speaking to his other brothers, "Fair enough. We'll keep it to Ginny." They nodded grudgingly. Amused, he asked, "Where'd you get the Veritaserum anyway, Fred?"
"Nicked it from Snape's stash this afternoon-greasy nob didn't take it with him." A Master's brew. Oh shit.
A few moments later, my body relaxed when, for the first time in over a decade, my mental defenses dropped completely. Bill removed the hex and Charlie and Fred pulled me into an overstuffed reading chair for the interrogation.
Bill seated himself directly across from me so that he could look into my eyes. I felt a sharp presence in my forebrain-he was a Legilimens too. Bugger! "Harry," he said, his voice even, yet quavering with threat, "Tell us what your feelings and intentions are toward Ginny."
I tried to fight it, but I knew how futile it was. "I love Ginny with my whole being. I'd sacrifice myself for her in a heartbeat. I was hoping to beg her to take me back-I'd do anything to have her in my life. Someday, as soon as we are both old enough, I want to ask her to marry me." They nodded, apparently satisfied with my answer.
I kept going, the magic causing me to babble, "And I want to get her back into the sack as soon as possible." Not so satisfied anymore. "As soon as I finish destroying the last of Vodlemort's horcruxes and send the tosser to hell, I plan to rip her clothing from her in a wild fit of passion and bury my face between her..."
"Gah!" Charlie said, stuffing a hand over my mouth. Even in my addled state, I could tell hot pink was an ominous color for five pairs of Weasley ears.
Bill's presence in my forebrain latched onto the images I brought up of ravishing my bride on our wedding night. I hoped he'd think it just a particularly vivid fantasy and not the synesthetic memory that it was. It was a fool's hope.
The unfortunate thing about the brain, as I learned when I picked up the mental arts, is that it's an associative medium. Start with a person's memory of one thing and a vague sense of what you're after and even a novice Legilimens can free-associate his way there-"six degrees of separation" isn't just a muggle parlor game. In about three short hops, Bill and I found ourselves replaying one of my less proud moments.
As you know, magic is the best thing going for the sex trade. "Pollies," women-and sometimes men-willing to take Polyjuice and role-play an evening of magical-contract-bound, "no-questions-asked" debauchery as anyone from Celestina Warbeck to prepubescent veela, could be had for a price. Like most modern magical couples, Gin and I had kept locks of each others' hair from before our wedding night, something we could use to relive our youth several times over in the century ahead.
Her name was Karla. Even without the potion, her likeness was close to Gin's and she was a quick study at the pensieve, enough so for this grieving widower to trade a few Galleons for the chance to plough his wife's virginal field. The two of us and our Ginger-haired voyeur were reliving the tryst, which involved my taking Gin in her Hogwarts robes. I had gathered her hair, plaited into two strands, and was holding them as reins from behind. She moaned loudly as I started in on the "back 40."
A right cross from her eldest brother broke our eye contact as well as my jaw.
"Filthy bastard!" Bill roared, bolting to his feet and planting a solid kick in my chest that snapped a rib and sank me deep into the upholstered chair.
Hearing a quick, shouted synopsis of what he'd seen, the others followed his example and valiantly joined in on the Harry-stomp, each kick trampolining me into the springy cushions. After picking up a set of foot-shaped bruises on my body and a few more broken ribs, the pain gave me a focus to break through the haze and recover some clarity.
My wand was out of reach, so I opted for a spot of multi-fighting instead, which I could do wandless. One of my nastier inventions from the last war, multi-fighting involves a bit of borderline-legal human conjuration, telepathic projection, splitting my consciousness many ways over, a fuckload of magical power, and, oh yes, enough clarity of mind to deliver a steaming pile of ass-whooping.
I spat out the rag and struggled to speak through their kicks. "You blokes like five..." Kick. "On one odds? Real..." Kick. "Sporting. Instead, let's try..." Kick. " Twelve on five." Pause.
"Huh?" they chorused.
I could go as high as twenty-three, but that'd just be showing off.
An even dozen Harrys, each a trained fighter in a lean, sixteen-year-old frame, materialized and made short work of the Weasley boys. I admit I took a little guilty pride in watching Charlie piss himself at facing a trio of Harrys with attitude and a facility for Ye Olde Groin Stomp.
Dispelling my dopplegangers, I snatched my wand and started in on the memory charms, doing a fast group job. I left Ron with a vague recollection of the Horcruxes. I also left them with a cover story and a bit of "attitude adjustment" regarding Gin and me, though in my haste, I may have put a little too much juice into the last.
The memory charm dispelled and they blinked and struggled to their feet.
"Thanks for the lesson in grappling, mates." I chirped. "I think I've almost got it now-it'll definitely come in handy to know this if we get into a tight scrap."
"Uh, no problem, Harry," Fred said, rubbing his head and trying to figure out their five-on-one "bover" ended with the five knocked out cold. The others were getting up slowly, equally confused.
"Least we could do, Old Bean," George added, pressing his fingers to his temple to stopper a small cut.
"So another lesson tomorrow you think?" I cracked my knuckles and flashed them a nasty grin.
"Um, let's lay off on the lessons for now," Charlie said, holding his lower back and trying to stopper blood from where his nose had gotten broken. The six staggered out of the room as another entered.
"Harry?" Ginny asked.
"Ginny," I gasped meeting her gaze, a lump forming in my throat. Though her eyes were red and puffy and her skin was blotchy from crying, to my desperate eyes she was beauty beyond poetry. She smiled meekly at me and I felt through the Bond for her affection, though was disappointed to find only vague, domestic thoughts and a profound sadness about Albus's death. I had no idea they were so close. If it were possible, I felt like even more of a heel for dumping her today of all days.
"What's going on?" she asked, taking in the disheveled state of the room.
"Your brothers were giving me pointers in how to fight." A sharp pain struck my chest and I winced. "I'd better fix these up before the meeting tonight." I shrugged off my shirt, careful to avoid aggravating my broken ribs, and started in on healing the bruises.
After a minute or so, I said, "Look, Gin, I needed to speak with you." She coughed and I filled in, "Oh, don't mind the magic-I had the trace removed. And I learned the healing spells last year from Poppy..."
"Harry," she interrupted, blushing furiously. "Um, could you, um..."
I looked down. I'd also stripped off my trousers to heal up the bruises on my legs. "Uh, oops?"
She coughed nervously as I conjured a privacy screen between us. A smart bit of transfiguration, it should last long enough for me to finish. I slid off my boxers and started in on the weeping scrape where Ron had clouted me on the hip.
"Sorry," I muttered as the anesthetic cold of the charm sank into bruised bone.
She sat quietly for a bit on the other side of the screen, then asked, "Why did you want to talk?"
I took a deep breath and steeled myself. This would be better face-to-face, but what the hell. "Ginny, I needed to tell you something important." I tapped my wand on my chest and a floating rib crept back into place. Wincing, I managed through clenched teeth, "Trying to distance myself from you was the biggest mistake of my life and I realize that now. Gin, I love you more than you can ever know and I can't imagine life without you in it." I grunted as the bone reset, the rib making a soft "pop." "Could you possibly find it in your heart to forgive me and take me back?"
"Oh. About that, Harry..." I knew from her tone of voice that something wasn't right. "This afternoon, I got to thinking. I like you, Harry, I really do. You're a sweet guy. But, I realized you're not the only boy in the world and it's pigheaded of you to expect me to wait for you. Until You-Know-Who is gone, I think you're right, maybe we shouldn't see each other..."
My jaw dropped.
"I mean, I'm young and smart and, I'm not ashamed to say, rather fetching. It's best if I don't get so emotionally involved with you just now since you'll be off doing what it is you have to do, chasing Voldemort or whatever, and I don't want to have to spend my days pining or worrying. It's not like we've been dating for that long anyway-only a few weeks, really." She paused for a long time and her image faded into view as the conjured screen separating us started to disappear. "It's not your fault. It's nobody's fault." She looked down at her hands, then blurted, "Don't get upset, but Colin asked me out after the funeral and I said yes. He's not a bad bloke, really. Okay for a rebound..."
I was too stunned by what I was hearing to remember to cast the Renewal charm on the screen. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I felt a vague sense of growing alarm.
"Come see me after you've finished with You-Know-Who, Harry," she said, affecting a faint smile and stepping closer, her wraith-like form becoming more substantial as she neared. With a faint hiss, the screen disappeared completely and I found myself standing before her, nude. Then several things happened.
Gin looked me over, an impish smile on her lips.
I felt a flash of alien fury in the back of my mind.
The door banged open as Molly bustled in, yelling. She clamped her hand over Ginny's eyes and sent me an outraged glare. I could actually feel its frostiness.
I snatched my boxers from the floor and held them in front of me, but teenaged hormones kicked in, spurring a reaction that obviated the attempt to hide my nudity. Ginny, catching a glimpse of my predicament through Molly's fingers, started to giggle.
Hissing, Molly marched her daughter out of the room as anger seeped across the Bond. She slammed the door behind them, leaving me alone with my thoughts. And my boxers.
Here I'd broken the laws of fate and magic, risking all to travel back to my beloved, only to be dumped for Colin Creevey.
I swear, if I ever get my hands on Fate, I'm drowning her in the bathtub.
Author's Note: My take on the Soul Bond/Time Travel motif so common in the Harry Potter fandom. This story should run for six chapters and is hopefully an entertaining, if irreverent, romp.